SUPERRR LAB: Building diverse and equal futures in tech and beyond

What kind of world do we want to live in in the future? What role should digital technologies play in determining this? And how can we work together to create equitable and diverse visions for the future? Read the blog contribution from Nandita Vasanta, Project Lead at SUPERRR LAB.

July 26, 2023

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“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.”
Gloria Steinem

It's time to reject the apocalypse – at least for now. Not out of ignorance or false optimism – on the contrary. We believe that attention must be drawn to inequalities, and that injustices and exploitative systems must be named. “To make something manifest, can be enough to cause a disturbance,” says researcher Sara Ahmed. We want to create disturbances, cracks and disruptions in order to create space for new ideas and forms of knowledge. In the face of the many crises and challenges of our time, we run the risk of becoming jaded or powerless. Instead, we want to ask ourselves how we can meet the pressing questions of our time in order to create equitable and livable visions of our future: “We have to enact the world we are aiming for: Nothing less will do,” says Ahmed. But in order to do that, we also need to know what this world can and should look like.

As a feminist organization, we at SUPERRR LAB have made it our mission to explore and think ahead about the potential of new technologies for our society. With an intersectional feminist approach, we aim to look at digitalization holistically in order to make often invisible power structures, unspoken narratives and systemic connections visible. It is a matter of questioning existing innovation narratives – replacing the mantra higher, faster, further, which comes at the expense of people and the environment, with ones that are more equitable, sustainable and inclusive, and placing values such as collaboration, prudence, and justice at the heart of this new intersectional feminist digitalization.

We not only want to make visible the inadequacies of the systems and structures that surround us, we also want to do something about them. By coming up with alternative and radical perspectives, visions and narratives about the future, we challenge the status quo and open up a space for possibilities and the what-if. In doing so, we are filling a gap in digital civil society - a field in which a large number of watchdogs and advocacy organizations are active -, draw attention to grievances, bring up painful topics and shed light on what needs to be changed.

As part of our fellowship programs, we support individuals and collectives in researching alternative and as yet little-considered perspectives of the future, and in developing technologies that actually meet the different needs of people. In our recent fellowship program, The New New, the recipients designed language assistants that do not make use of gender stereotypes. Young people in Paris used Minecraft to sketch what their homes – the banlieues – could look like in the future. HammamRadio created a safe space for the Arabic-speaking LGBTQ+ community that allowed them to talk about feminism, queerness, and social taboos. And much more.

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SUPERRR LAB is a feminist organization and a network that works at the intersection between technology and society. The organization opposes the lack of perspectives in politics, research and technology, and develop alternative visions and projects with the goal of creating a more equitable future. The Risktakers Fellowship is a cooperation of SUPERRR LAB and the Allianz Foundation. More information.

At the same time, we examine the social impact of technologies in our research work and provide recommendations for action with regard to politics and society – such as through the concept of a feminist digital policy. Our goal is to enable a world in which every person can participate in a democratic society and benefit from technological advances.

We believe that the future is something we should do and think about together. Shaping it is a practice that requires constant development – and works best when we work together as well as empower and support each other. That’s why we collaborate with people from civil society and the technology industry, non-profit organizations and public institutions, policymakers, artists and other creative people to research more equitable technologies and enable new narratives. Through our work we connect different interest groups and aim to give space and visibility to the multitude of voices and perspectives.

As a feminist community, our goal is to show that desirable futures are possible when we dare to explore (still) unknown paths for thought and action – whether it’s by founding new programs, carrying out campaigns, creating community spaces or building things that make the world a better place. These different initiatives, projects, and people create a network in which diverse knowledge practices are connected and create synergies. Ahmed says that this form of exchange, “these acts of spreading the word, are world making.” With this in mind – let’s spread the word!

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